Menopause: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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What is Menopause?

Menopause occurs when a woman is finished having menstrual cycles. It is officially diagnosed after a woman has failed to have a period for 12 months. It affects women between the ages of 40 and 60, but it can occur earlier or later in life. The average age for a woman in the United States to be diagnosed with menopause is 51. It is a natural process, and once a woman has gone through menopause, she can no longer have children. The symptoms of menopause can be severe, and many women seek treatment for them.

Menopause Causes

Menopause is a natural biological process that happens to all women. There is no specific cause, as the body must go through the process naturally. Some women start menopause earlier than others, and some women go through it longer than others. There are a few factors that can lead to menopause. Those things include:

  • Lower reproductive hormone levels
  • Hysterectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Ovarian insufficiency

Menopause Symptoms

The symptoms of menopause can vary from person to person. Some people have very mild symptoms, while others have severe symptoms that can be debilitating. Many women seek medical attention for their symptoms, which can include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Chills
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Night sweats
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight gain
  • Breast changes
  • Dry skin

Menopause Diagnosis

Doctors can diagnose menopause based on a woman’s age and symptoms. Most doctors do not need to conduct any tests to confirm menopause, but if they do feel that testing is necessary, they may opt to test hormone levels. A decrease in estrogen levels can confirm a menopause diagnosis. They may also test for an underactive thyroid, as the symptoms of this disease can mimic the symptoms of menopause.

Menopause Treatment

Treatments are aimed at reducing the severity of the symptoms of menopause. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy can help increase hormone levels so symptoms are not so severe. Hormone therapy can also help with mood swings and hot flashes.
  • Vaginal estrogen: This can help with vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse. It can also help with some urinary issues.
  • Blood pressure medications: Many women struggle with high blood pressure while going through menopause. Blood pressure medication may be prescribed to keep blood pressure at a safe level.
  • Osteoporosis medications: Menopause can lead to bone health problems and osteoporosis. Medications can be prescribed to help prevent or treat osteoporosis.
  • Medications for hot flashes: Clonidine or Gabapentin can be taken in pill or patch form to help with hot flashes.

Menopause Prognosis

All women go through menopause at some point. The age at which they start and end can vary. Some women go through it quickly and only suffer from symptoms for a few months. Others can take longer. Once they have finished the stages of menopause, the symptoms go away, and most women start to feel better. Some women may still struggle with osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and other symptoms after menopause.


  • ACOG: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists